Every MMO has a death penalty. That's just a term for what happens to your character when they're defeated in combat. Traditionally, MMOs have either a lenient penalty ("nothing happens") or a punitive one ("you lose a level of experience!"). But a one-size-fits-all penalty really isn't nuanced enough for an MMO. Here's why:

  • A really punitive death penalty can be fun, as long as you're prepared for it. If you're fighting  against a dangerous boss monster, a scary death penalty will make your success taste a lot more sweet. (And really, how dangerous can a boss monster really be if there's no risk involved to your character?)
  • On the other hand, if you're just sitting in town or exploring the landscape, punitive death penalties are very annoying. You might have stopped paying attention for a split second, or made a small judgment error in an otherwise-ordinary combat, and the game punished you for dying. Most people don't think that's fun. In fact, it can be rage-inducing.
  • But some people disagree and think punitive death penalties are always fun. They want high-stakes death all the time. Why can't they have that?

Project: Gorgon's death penalty addresses all these issues:

  • Normally, when you die, you simply respawn at a designated location in the area. No fuss, no muss, no other penalty.
  • But when you fight designated "boss monsters," indicated by a flashing warning screen before you arrive, the stakes go up. Boss monsters can do horrific things to your character, like transform them into a big spider or make them see ghosts -- and these curses are permanent until you find a way to remove them. The stakes are huge! But you're never surprised by a boss monster -- you get to choose when you want to take that risk (if ever).
  • For players who want a bigger penalty, you can turn on "Hardcore Mode." These players will find that some of their items break when they die. To fix them, they have to return to the location they died. Otherwise, the items are useless junk forever.
  • (And to be added later in development: ) For seriously hardcore players, you can turn on No-Respawn Mode. Your character simply won't be able to respawn -- they'll be stuck as a corpse. Your only hope is for another player to give you a rare resurrection item that brings you back to life. Hope you made some friends before you died! (This mode is mostly intended for "hardcore guilds," groups of players who want to share a super-dangerous game experience. It's not recommended for players who prefer playing alone.)

Plus, death can have a silver lining!

  • Dying in new and unusual ways earns you Death XP, which is important for learning Necromancy, among other things.
  • As you become more nuanced in dying, you'll learn more secrets about the game.
  • Sometimes when you reincarnate, you'll have a temporary "role-play death penalty," where the game asks you to role-play some psychological condition, like a fear of bridges or an inability to say the letter "b". These death penalties don't have any effect on game mechanics; it's up to you to role-play them well.
  • Even if you get cursed into something horrible, like a pig or a spider, all hope is not lost. Most curses have an up-side. For instance, spiders can train to become formidable combatants with unique abilities. It's true that as a giant spider you'll never be able to shop in town again, and you can't wield a sword anymore, but you can spit webs and lay egg sacs!
  • Each death-penalty curse can be broken in several ways. First, you can go back and defeat the boss that did this to you. Second, you can usually create a rare potion, complete an obscure ritual, or hunt down a hidden scribe to get an alternate cure. Finding this alternate cure is up to you.